HAMPTON COURT PALACE, MIDDLESEX
Well it was a bit wild, a bit beautiful and damned, but I am talking about the weather last week, when we went to Hampton Court on the train.
Damed nuisance …..
The road outside the Palace is currently suffering roadworks, and as we were a bit early meeting friends, we decided to cross the road to the restaurant/bar (which used to be a good old fashioned pub) on the river bank. Unfortunately the barriers prevented everybody crossing at the traffic lights, from the road by the Palace entrance.
There was no safe place near by to cross, and the traffic is heavy there, so several of us moved the barriers so we could cross over safely when the lights turned to red. This annoyed the site foreman (not a Brit) who remonstrated with us, saying it was not safe to cross, but not suggesting anywhere else to cross. Ah well…..
The wild and beautiful bit was the clouds, full of rain, over the palace, and yes, we did get pretty wet in the heavy shower. Here is a photo of the clouds
|Hampton Court Palace in April|
The exhibition, open to 30 September 2012, called
The Wild, the Beautiful and the Damned
is very interesting and I recommend a visit, if you are in the area. Hampton Court can be found not far from London, via a train from Waterloo. The galleries are apparently newly spruced up, where the paintings and sculptures are on display. It is a temporary exhibition.
Most of the paintings are of ladies from the court of King Charles II with a few from the reign of his brother King James II. The main works are painted by Peter Lely, born in Germany, who was active in London from 1647.
Peter Lely in Wikipedia
The beautiful women who lived in London during Charles's reign were very influential with the king, who loved pretty, powerful and witty girls.
It is a shame that a lot the of faces are so similar, because I guess that these girls were all very different. They had to live by their wits as well as their looks, and it was a tough place to carve out a position of power and wealth, there was so much competition. The money which Charles had at his disposal for his favourites was limited. He also rewarded them with titles, and made sure that his many bastards had titles too. Nell Gwyn, who was an actress and therefore a bit 'common' was not reward with a title, although her two sons were.
Nell Gwyn in Wikipedia, with information about the Court
You have a chance to see paintings in the Windsor Beauties group, and Hampton Court Beauties group, which are not usually shown together.
The Lely paintings were all done in part by Lely's studio artists, since he was so extremely popular he could not do all the work himself. Nevertheless, the portraits are a great pleasure to examine in detail, and there is interesting information in each of the large rooms. You can get a background the the life of these women, some of whom died tragically young. There is a huge portrait of Charles as well, in pride of place, showing off his shapely calves and elegant high heeled shoes.
There are also paintings by Geoffrey Kneller, and other artists which I did not know.
TROUPE OF ACTORS AT HAMPTON COURT
The museum staff are knowledgeable and helpful, and while we were there, a troupe of actors were enacting Peter Lely painting notorious Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland.
If you care to visit St Paul's Church in Covent Garden, Peter Lely is buried there. Nell Gwyn is buried in St Martin's in the Fields, Covent Garden.
The exhibition includes two very large Rubens paintings.
It is a fascinating collection of works and gives an interesting highlight on a very famous collection of British celebrities from the 17th century.